Europe's airports post soaring start to 2017 for passenger traffic as future outlook is boosted by French election result

 
Rebecca Smith
ACI's director general said the French election meant political instability was likely to recede somewhat in the EU
ACI's director general said the French election meant political instability was likely to recede somewhat in the EU (Source: Getty)

Passenger traffic at European airports rose by an average 6.9 per cent during the first quarter of the year, and the outlook is less turbulent thanks to the result of the French election, according to a European airport trade body.

ACI Europe said the EU market had maintained "a dynamic growth trajectory".

Read more: This is what Brexit and a weaker pound will do to the UK's airports

Passenger traffic rose 7.2 per cent among countries in the bloc during the first quarter and 11 national markets posted double-digit growth.

The ACI's director general Olivier Jankovec added that the result of the French presidential election should help to propel growth in Europe.

"The momentum for traffic growth is holding on and it may well continue to do so in the coming months," he said. "The risk of increased political instability for the EU has just receded with the results of the French elections – a very positive factor for our industry. The return of a growth dynamic for freight reflects increasing trade, business confidence and the fact that other leading indicators are showing the economy is on the up – especially in the Eurozone."

However, Jankovec did note the need for cautious optimism, as the wider geopolitical environment "remains more unstable than ever". He said the outlook for UK airports in particular remained cloudy.

The ongoing uncertainty over the implications of Brexit for aviation is unlikely to be resolved quickly - and this might end up limiting airline capacity growth and network development opportunities for some airports, especially in the UK.

Passenger traffic in the non-EU market also grew during the first quarter, though at a slower pace, with traffic up 5.9 per cent. Freight traffic across the European airport network rose eight per cent, and March had the best monthly performance since April 2011.

Read more: Aviation minister: UK needs aviation industry more than ever post-Brexit

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